ARLINGTON, Texas – Michael Pineda made an impressive debut for the Seattle Mariners, only to be outdone by another pitcher also making his first major league start.
The 22-year-old Pineda allowed three runs and five hits over six innings Tuesday night in a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, when the right-hander became the first Seattle pitcher to make his major league debut in a start since Felix Hernandez six seasons ago.
“I’m not nervous, it was exciting,” Pineda said.
Alexi Ogando (1-0) pitched six scoreless innings for Texas, which remained undefeated and became the first team to reach five wins. The only other undefeated teams are Baltimore (4-0) and Cincinnati (4-0).
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic when the right-hander was only 16 years old, Pineda (0-1) was 11-4 last season in 25 starts at the Double- and Triple-A levels. He is the first Mariners rookie to be in the opening-day rotation since Freddy Garcia in 1999.
“He was poised out there,” Mariners man ager Eric Wedge said. “He should feel real good about it, the way he pitched, the way he controlled the game. We couldn’t have asked for a better outing.”
Pineda struck out four and walked one.
Four of the hits Pineda allowed were for extra bases. But none were home runs by the Rangers, who hit 13 balls out of the park their first four games.
“Pretty good for a young kid, no doubt about it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I was impressed. … I was also very impressed with Ogando.”
Hernandez, the A.L. Cy Young winner last season who threw a complete game on opening day, pitches the finale today for the Mariners. After that, Seattle returns West for its home opener Friday.
Nelson Cruz, who had homered in each of the Rangers’ first four games, drew a two-out walk in the second and scored on a standup triple by Mitch Moreland.
Josh Hamilton, the reigning A.L. MVP, had a run-scoring double in the sixth and scored what proved to be the deciding run on a double by Michael Young.
“They’re pretty good hitters, but I’m working for the first pitch to be a strike,” Pineda said. “My No. 1 pitch is fastball, but my pitch for a strikeout is my slider. And I used my changeup, too. … I feel good about this game. … It’s a great team and had to work through it.”
Neftali Feliz worked a perfect ninth for his second save in two chances, both against the Mariners in this series.
Center fielder Julio Borbon made a diving runs-saving catch to end the seventh after Seattle had already scored twice against a pair of relievers and had the bases loaded. The ball hit by Milton Bradley was slicing away from Borbon when he fully extended his body to catch it inches off the ground.
Mark Lowe, traded with Cliff Lee from Seattle to Texas last summer, relieved Ogando to start the seventh. After getting a grounder from Justin Smoak, the first baseman the Mariners got in that deal, Lowe gave up three consecutive singles.
Jack Wilson’s RBI single made it 3-1 before 40-year-old Darren Oliver gave up an RBI single to Michael Saunders and Ichiro Suzuki reached on an error by second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Saunders badly misjudged the triple by Moreland. The center fielder ran to the warning track and leaped at the wall. Except the ball hit several feet below his glove, then ricocheted hard back into the outfield.
“Thought it was further than it was,” Saunders said. “It’s tough to tell with how the wind blows out there.”
Smoak was 0 for 4, snapping a 14-game hitting streak. … New Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre, who once played in Seattle, is 0 for 13 since a grand slam Saturday. … Seattle has lost 17 of its last 24 games in Texas.
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